An outspoken activist and City Hall regular has sued Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, asserting the Portland official refuses to release what should be public documents.
Mimi German claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court that Eudaly is violating German’s First and 14th Amendment rights. German’s complaints about Eudaly started earlier this year when German began disrupting City Council meetings. She rallied dozens of people under the banner of advocating for homeless people’s interests over several weeks, often leading the march into council chambers that would bring meetings to a halt amid heckling.
German has been a regular at City Hall since. Her suit claims Eudaly has used her personal Facebook page to comment on German’s public statements and behavior, and that some commenters respond with rude or threatening posts.
One commenter said German should be "locked up in the nut house," the suit said. Another commenter, who asked Eudaly what friends could do to help, allegedly followed up with a photograph of a vandalized building near to German’s workplace.
"The defendants’ actions in mocking and harassing Ms. German, and in soliciting others to do the same, constituted unlawful retaliation by public officials for engaging in activity protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," German said in her suit.
German said that she is afraid for her safety and has nightmares because of the Facebook posts and comments.
She also alleges the commissioner denied a public records request for comments and notes Eudaly made about German’s testimony. German maintains that, even if Eudaly writes on her own Facebook page, it is a public document when she writes about city business.
Oregon state archivist Mary Beth Herkert has backed German’s assertion. The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in November that Eudaly’s posts have condemned protesters at City Council meetings, dismissed some of the public testimony to the council, disputed the findings in news stories critical of her bureaus, and discussed lobbying the Oregon State Legislature to lift the state’s ban on rent control.
Herkert said in that article that private Facebook posts in which Eudaly makes or receives comment on city matters are public records that the public is probably entitled to see and should be retained the same manner as any other public document.
Eudaly’s office has denied that her Facebook posts are public records. Several people have complained about Eudaly’s social media use to the ombudsman’s office, records obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive through a public records request show. The ombudsman’s office redacted the name of the people who complained.
German is the first to assert that Eudaly owes her money because of it. German also asks that Eudaly be forced to produce the documents and be mandated to attend every future City Council meeting unless she is too sick.
The last point of contention is because Eudaly has not always been present in council chambers to hear German address the commissioners. German claims those absences are intentional and violate her right to petition the government.
— Molly Harbarger
Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith in June, 2017.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury speaks in front of Portland City Hall in July of 2016.